OAKLAND — Just before the Oracle Arena roared to life for the Warriors' 108-100 overtime win against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, commissioner Adam Silver made it abundantly apparent that the clock is officially ticking on the franchise's stay at its current home.
“Ultimately this team needs a new arena,” Silver said in a news conference on Thursday. “There is no doubt about that. This is one of the oldest arenas in the league and can't support long term the NBA infrastructure.”
While expressing confidence in owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber to decide where the location of team's next arena will be, Silver said that the league does not have a specific geographical preference.
“I would say from the league standpoint we've always seen this team as the Bay Area's team,” Silver said. “I think there is a reason [why they're] the Golden State Warriors, they're not Oakland Warriors.”
During his trip to the Bay Area, Silver will visit San Francisco to check out the proposed Mission Bay site and will also meet with the team's president and chief operating officer Rick Welts to get an update on the status of the project.
“I don't know, exactly, frankly where it stands in terms of progress,” Silver said. “I've been following it a bit in the media. I plan to meet with Rick Welts and talk more about it.”
Silver had praise for the Warriors from the team's ownership on down.
“Sort of top to bottom in their organization, they're top-notch,” Silver said. “They went about it in a particular way, and Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, in addition to having an outstanding group of partners and ownership, they brought in first-class people to run their organization.”
After both Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson sustained head injuries in the Western Conference finals, Silver addressed the topic, calling the league's concussion protocol “best in class.”
“It seemed like a bit of a flukey situation, just in terms of statistically how many concussions we have in this league. It was a huge aberration to have two players on one team in such a short amount of time.”
Silver explained that both injuries were handled properly, but also noted that he is open to making changes to the league's protocol if necessary.
“Our protocols were followed exactly as mandated in the case of both players. I've had discussion with the Players Union as to whether there are other ways to do it, and my response has been we're all ears.”
Silver sounded less inclined to make any rule changes to deter teams from deliberately fouling poor free-throw shooters, a strategy that is commonly referred to as “Hack-a-Shaq.”
“What the data shows is that you're largely talking about two teams throughout the playoffs. In fact, 90 percent of the occurrences of Hack-a-Shaq involve the [Houston] Rockets and the [Los Angeles] Clippers, and for the most part it's two players,” Silver said. “So then the question becomes should we be making that rule change largely for two teams and two players?”